The shortlist for the 2012 Barclaycard Mercury Prize Albums of the Year, were announced earlier this week. Celebrating the best albums from UK and Ireland, host Lauren Laverne read out the 12 nominations. Previous winners include PJ Harvey, The xx, Elbow, Arctic Monkeys, Franz Ferdinand and Dizzee Rascal. Lets have a look at the first 6 albums up for contention …
1) Alt-J (∆) – An Awesome Wave
** Updated** – Winner of the 2012 Barclaycard Mercury Prize
‘An Awesome Wave‘, the debut album from Alt-J, was released in May 2012 through ‘Infectious Music’. It features the singles ‘Matilda’, ‘Breezeblocks’ and the stunning ‘Tessellate’.
The band consists of Gwil Sainsbury (guitarist/bassist), Joe Newman (guitar/vocals), Gus Unger-Hamilton (keyboards) and Thom Green (drums), who together deliver a strong and captivating debut album that spans across a multitude of musical genres, including their uniquely dubbed “folk step”. Each track is fresh and exciting, while lead vocals from Newman guide us through the album effortlessly with his poignant intimate lyrics.
The band had a great presence throughout the summer festival season, including performances at Latitude, Bestival, T in the park, Reading and Leeds and have plenty of upcoming tour dates on the horizon.
2) Ben Howard – Every Kingdom
Every Kingdom, the debut album from English singer song-writer Ben Howard, was released in October 2011 through ‘Island Records’. It features the singles ‘Old Pine’, ‘The Wolves’, ‘Keep Your Head Up’ and ‘Only Love’.
Bens clear influences from Bon Iver and John Martyn, has resulted in a debut album that’s both engaging and emotional. His folk style incorporates delicately plucked guitars, simple percussion, soothing vocal harmonies, and a collaboration with India Bourne on cello. From the up-tempo tracks of ‘Keep Your Head Up’, to the more personal and restrained numbers of ‘Everything’, ‘Every Kingdom’ is a perfect balance of light and shade.
In April 2012, Ben launched his music in the US followed by a successful performance at SXSW in Texas. During the Summer, Ben captivated the crowds at Radio 1 Hackney Weekend, T in the Park and Electric Picnic. Be sure to catch him at one of his many upcoming UK and Irish dates.
3) Django Django – Django Django
Django Django’s self-titled debut album was released in January 2012 through ‘Because Music’. It features the singles ‘Default’ ‘Waveforms’ and ‘Hail Bop’.
The psychedelic quartet consists of David Maclean (drums), Vincent Neff, (vocals and guitars), Jimmy Dixon, (bass) and Tommy Grace (synths). The album uniquely infuses musical genres to deliver such a distinct sound – Whether it be the synth-pop vibes of ‘Hail Bop’ to the tribal beats and chanting of ‘Skies Over Cairo’, each track is fresh, imaginative and bursting with colour.
Their new single ‘Life’s A Beach’ will be released on October 31st, while a full tour starts October 20th in Norwich.
4) Field Music – Plumb
‘Plumb’ is the fourth album from brotherly duo Peter and David Brewis. Released in February 2012 through ‘Memphis Industries’, it features the singles ‘(I Keep Thinking About) a New Thing‘ and a ‘New Town’.
With fifteen tracks in just 35 minutes, ‘Plum’ is quite complex and constantly changing with its use of instrumentation and different rhythmic devices. The album can be described as ‘progressive pop’ that spans across a multitude of different influences, from the Beatles, to Talking Heads.
The duo recently performed at Bestival, with their upcoming UK tour starting October 3rd in Aberdeen.
5) Jessie Ware – Devotion
Jessie Ware, one of the most promising new acts from South London, released her captivating debut album ‘Devotion’ in August, through Island Records/PMR. Featuring the singles 110%, Running and Wildest Moments, Devotion takes us on a musical journey of R&B, pop, soul and electronic music
When you’re debut album is produced by Dave Okumu (The Invisible), Bristol electronic producer Julio Bashmore (Au Seve), and Kid Harpoon (co-writer of Florence + The Machine: Ceremonials), you know you’re building pretty solid foundations for a debut release. Each with their own individual style, yet never taking away from Ware’s unique form that makes ‘Devotion’ a real stand-out album.
From the defined beats of ‘Wildest Moments’, to the 80’s inspired synths of ‘110%, Jessie manages to keep it fresh by making it so relatable and personable. You really feel like she’s singing from her soul as she opens up about these personal moments in her life.
After an exceptionally busy summer, including performances at BBC Radio 1 Hackney Weekend, Ibiza, House Party live on channel 4, Jessie kicks of her headlining tour of the UK in November.
6) Lianne La Havas – Is Your Love Big Enough
In July 2012, Lianne La Havas released her stunning debut album through ‘Warner Bros Records’. The album features the singles ‘Is Your Love Big Enough?’,’ No Room For Doubt’, ‘Forget’ and ‘Lost & Found’.
From the delicate guitar accompaniment of ‘No Room For Doubt’, to the edgy and powerful vocal of ‘Forget’, Lianne highlights not only her soulful voice, but her talent as a songwriting. Citing Nina Simone and Lauryn Hill as her main influences, the South Londoner sings with such honesty as she invites us into her world with each new track.
Lianne started off the year on a high, after being shortlisted for the BBC Sound of 2012 and supporting Bon Iver on tour. Her next performance is at the iTunes festival September 28th, followed by a UK tour starting October 5th